AFRICA IS A COUNTRY

ART

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Monday, October 6th, 2014

Kampala gets an Art Biennale

Billed erroneously in a local Ugandan newspaper as Africa’s first contemporary art biennale, the Kampala Art Biennale opened on 1 August showing mostly paintings of 45 artists from 13 African countries. Its main exhibition venues were the historical Uganda Museum, as well as the Makerere Art Gallery, and Nommo Gallery. The biennale capitalized on marketing itself

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

Brett Bailey, The Barbican and Black Britons

The South African artist Brett Bailey’s installation, “Exhibit B”, was supposed to open on Tuesday, September 23, at The Vaults, a multi-disciplinary space located in underground sections of London’s Waterloo station. The Barbican had hired out the...

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

The Afropeans are Coming

Over the next three days, a  group of artists, writers, filmmakers and cultural commentators will meet at Afropea Now!, a a symposium of film screenings, concerts, a workshop and an exhibition taking place at the cultural institution Stadtwerkstatt in...

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Black Europe and Body Politics

BE.BOP (Black Europe & Body Politics) presents yet another important edition titled Spiritual Revolutions & “The Scramble for Africa” this year. For those not familiar with this groundbreaking project, BE.BOP is a curatorial project, in co-production with Ballhaus...

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Artist Mohau Modisakeng: Probing Subliminal Violence

Those who are playing football there now are walking over dead bodies. Their euphoria and the deaths that occurred there during the hostel violence of the 1990s is a dichotomy that, even as the artist stands in...

Friday, June 20th, 2014

A review Dak’art 2014 (II)

Halfway through my visit to the International Exhibition of this year’s ambitious edition of Dak’art: the 11th Biennale of Contemporary African Art, a tray of fragrant Thieboudienne, the classic Senegalese dish, was brought out into the courtyard...

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Trouble in the Village: A Review of Dak’ Art 2014

Dak’ Art 014 is an art exhibition showing over 120 artists of African descent. It opened on 9th May, with a main international showcase at the Village de la Biennale, a television studio along Route de la...

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Interview: On two important exhibitions devoted to African diasporas during the slave trades (Part II)

In this, the second, in a two-part interview with Dr. Sylviane Diouf and Dr. Joaneath Spicer, respectively the curators of two important exhibitions of African diasporas–Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europeand Africans in India: From Slaves...

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Interview: On two important exhibitions devoted to African diasporas during the slave trades (Part I)

Two important exhibitions devoted to African diasporas in the age of slave trades have just closed. The first, “Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe,” was organized by the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, and then displayed at...

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

James Baldwin at 90, Part 3: Black Style in an Age of Sights for the Speechless

In Take This Hammer, Baldwin’s guide, Orville Luster, positions him in San Francisco’s Lower Fillmore District across the street from the Booker T. Washington Hotel. As they approach the hotel on Fillmore Street, Luster says, “now, off...

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

‘Dreams Close To Home': In search of the perfect wall to paint in South Africa

Sometime last year, I attended an exhibition opening entitled “Dreams Close To Home” at the Two by Two Art Studio in Newtown, Johannesburg. It was the culmination of a self-initiated project by the artists Lisolomzi Pikoli (Fuzzy Slipperz, illustrator),...

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Peter Clarke: “I remember thinking, if he who is black can be an artist, so can I.”

Influenced by the Mexican muralists of the 1930s and ‘40s, and also by the German Expressionists, the South African artist Peter Clarke (who passed away at the age of 85 on April 13, 2104)  built his reputation...

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

The art of Victor Ehikhamenor

Victor Ehikhamenor’s images always work as a proliferation of forms. It’s the sort of proliferation that explodes in your face, making the shapes and objects something other than shapes and objects. Too much is happening, which is...

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Pax Kaffraria: An Interview with Artist Meleko Mokgosi

What is most pleasing about Meleko Mokgosi’s work is also what many find elusive in contemporary artwork, the combination of both technical mastery and thought provoking concept. Even as I look at his works as images on...

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Peter Clarke–In Memoriam

Peter Clarke. It is such sad news to hear of his passing quietly in the middle of the night on Sunday 13 April. His body is gone but his art remains - bearing witness, etched into memory....

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Europeans ‘rescuing’ African art from obscurity again

On April 1st, the Saatchi Gallery in London held a private preview for its new exhibition, Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America, ahead of the five-month long show. Attendees remarked at the variety of art...

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Redefining Diaspora in Harlem

In "Our Kind of People" (image above) the Harlem-based artist Bayeté Ross Smith examines how clothing, ethnicity and gender affect our ideas about identity, personality and character. Devoid of any context for assessing the personality of the...

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Zanele Muholi’s new work mourns and celebrates South African queer lives

Many of the images in Zanele Muholi's new solo exhibition, "Of Love & Loss," depict the celebration of black gay and lesbian weddings. She tells me about Ayanda Moremi’s marriage to Nhlanhla in Katlehong, Johannesburg, in November...

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

#WhiteHistoryMonth: Canada’s Art History

In 1786, François Malépart de Beaucourt, a painter in New France (later Quebec), completed a portrait of a woman he owned. Though Canada’s slave-owning history is often whitewashed, it exists in documents such as the painting Portrait...

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Toronto’s Afrofuture

Toronto’s downtown core feels like a city of the near-future these days. There’s the condo boom that, as someone said to me recently, makes TO feel like Gotham City on a sunny day; more and more surfaces...

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

The Congolization Movement

On January 17th, a group of local artists (Pitcho Womba Konga, Fredy Massamba, Badi Banx, Caroline, Kamanda, Lety, Jack, Karim, Christian, Malkia and myself) pulled off "the Action" in L'Horloge Du Sud, better known as the Afro-European...

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Football, Art, and its Many Intersections: An Interview with Franklin Sirmans

Shortly after the opening of Fútbol: The Beautiful Game at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) I had the opportunity to speak with the exhibition’s curator, Franklin Sirmans. It was actually three days after the...

Friday, February 7th, 2014

New short film: John Akomfrah, Stuart Hall and the film essay

In 2013 I had the opportunity to work with frieze, a UK-based contemporary art and culture magazine. Towards the end of my time at the magazine, I co-produced a film on John Akomfrah, which just went live...

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

What’s it like to be an artist in Egypt right now

On the last Sunday of January, an Egyptian musical theatre group performed a bare-bones rendition of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables in colloquial Arabic to a standing room only crowd in New York City’s Leonard Nimoy Thalia. In fact the...

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Watch: Short documentary on Lagos performance artist Jelili Atiku

From the perspective of one who appreciates Nigerian art, it seems as if a disconnect persists between those artists, almost exclusively painters and sculptors, who work in a mimetic realist representational mode and cater directly to wealthy...

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

New Exhibition at LACMA Devoted to The Beautiful Game’s Global Significance

Today the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Fútbol: The Beautiful Game opens to the public. An exhibition curated by Franklin Sirmans, it is devoted to football’s global position as a “common human experience shared by spectators...

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

The Book of North African Literature: Pierre Joris on Poetry and Miscegenation

A 743-page anthology of North African literature was published by the University of California last year. Ranging from documents made in sixth century Carthage to experimental prose published months after the 2011 uprisings, the Book of North African...

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Wangechi Mutu in conversation with Trevor Schoonmaker

Schoonmaker: When did you start to see work by African artists that you did respond to? Was that in New York? Mutu: In New York, ironically, you know, in the early ’90s. Richard Onyango, one of Kenya’s...

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Three Signs of Ghana’s Art Times

Ghana is currently experiencing a surge of contemporary performing and visual arts. Here are some notes on goings on about Accra-town. I. Song of the Pharaoh A new play, Song of the Pharaoh by leading playwright Mohammed...

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Confronting Afrikaners’ cultural masochism

South African artist Richardt Strydom’s photography is beautiful to me – albeit it in a perverse, guilty kind of way. Through self-observation and re-positioning, his art challenges ideas of power, agency and complicity through analysing and dismantling...

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